DETROIT - A candidate for the Wayne County Commission says elections officials are denying her right to put her name on the ballot as Toni with an "I," while allowing a man to use the same nickname with the same spelling.
County Commission candidate Toni Adams is worried that voters will confuse her name with that of a rival candidate connected to a house on Detroit's east side.
"All of my constituents, family and friends know me as Toni Adams," says Adams. "They know me as Toni."
But her legal name is Guitonia. Even though Toni appears within the name, the Wayne County Clerk, after consulting with the Secretary of State's office, says she cannot use the nickname.
"A William can be called Bill because some Williams are called Bill," says Adams. "But they said ‘We never heard of the name Guitonia'."
Antonio Ratliff can use Toni spelling
Meanwhile, the man who lives in the area is named Antonio Ratliff. Caven West, Deputy Clerk-Chief of Staff says he can run as Toni as the name is a derivative of Antonio.
What infuriates Adams is that the other candidate can use the spelling "Toni" with an "I," a nickname usually associated with a woman. She fears even her supporters could be confused.
"I'll be guaranteeing you that after it's over, we're going to talk to the people that voted for [Antonio] and they're going to say ‘We voted for you Toni.' I'll tell them they didn't even vote for a woman," says Adams.
Adams speaks to Ratliff
Adams says she has talked to Ratliff who tells her that he has no knowledge of his name being on the ballot. The clerk's office says his signature is genuine nominating his name onto the ballot.
If Adams loses votes, incumbent Commissioner Jewel Ware would benefit. Ware told Local 4 on Monday she has nothing to do with Toni Ratliff's name being on the ballot.
Local 4 couldn't reach Ratliff. Adams says she will file a complaint with the Secretary of State's office.